Thursday, July 14, 2011

CAP LTER's summer ecology program for low-income children

This is a really good program and was coordinated by Katie Mills...

Summer in the city often involves more time inside than outside, particularly for low-income children who cannot afford to attend summer camps. This summer, I developed an ecology program for around 25 low-income children ages 7-14, using the kits and lesson plans developed by CAP LTER's Schoolyard program, "Ecology Explorers."
As the Programs Coordinator for "Helping Hands Housing Services Casa de Paz Sahuaro," my goal was to pull kids away from their televisions and MP3 players and get them outdoors to learn and have fun. Children attending my summer ecology program were from families that lived in Casa de Paz Sahuaro, an apartment complex owned by Helping Hands Housing Services. Helping Hands is a non-profit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty for low-income families by providing permanent affordable housing and comprehensive support services.
While an undergraduate at Arizona State University, I worked as an outreach intern for Ecology Explorers, helping promote and recruit teachers for the program at community events and conventions, and providing administrative support. Three years later, I decided to partner again with Ecology Explorers to reach these underprivileged children at Helping Hands
Casa de Paz Sahuaro is located at the base of North Mountain in Phoenix. While the children may have limited space to play inside, behind their apartments is a whole new world for exploration and learning. I wanted the kids to see the creepy crawlers and the variety of feathered friends that live right in their backyard!
In two separate outings, we hiked almost half a mile up the mountain and set arthropod pitfall traps. Our first collection only yielded a few bugs, including a beetle, a bee, and a small spider, but that did not dampen our young explorers' enthusiasm and curiosity.
We reset the traps and, two days later, found more exciting creatures, including a medium-sized scorpion. The kids put their findings in a display case to examine them more closely and to remember the types of arthropods they discovered in the desert behind their apartments.
After their discoveries on the ground, our kids looked to the skies and the trees using binoculars and guide books from the bird kit. The bilingual guides gave the mostly Spanish-speaking parents a chance to participate with their kids. Working in pairs or as families, they observed a variety of birds that were right outside their windows and made bird feeders to attract even more.
Thanks to Ecology Explorers, children at Casa de Paz Sahuaro had an opportunity to gain an appreciation of and learn about their environment through hands-on science activities.
By Katie Mills, Programs Coordinator, Helping Hands Housing Services Casa de Paz Sahuaro

Children from Casa de Paz Sahuaro set pitfall traps using Ecology Explorers protocols I

Children from Casa de Paz Sahuaro set pitfall traps using Ecology Explorers protocols

Children from Casa de Paz Sahuaro set pitfall traps using Ecology Explorers protocols III


Please don't forget to check our website for more eco & green products and services

Friday, July 8, 2011

Eco-Schools Solar Programme - Free Power for Schools in England

As part of its ongoing drive to help schools improve their eco-performance and environmental education, Eco-Schools has arranged for schools to participate in our fantastic new Eco-Schools Solar Programme.
The programme will provide participating schools with free electricity for use by the school generated by solar panels. The programme includes the following features:
  • zero installation and maintenance cost
  • electricity generated is provided free to the participating school
  • a display system showing staff and pupils the power generated and carbon saved
  • a free Display Energy Certificate (DEC) for five years, which can cost schools up to £3,000
  • an opportunity to link solar power with learning opportunities as part of the Eco-Schools awards
  • an opportunity to qualify for a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Energy Award by achieving reduction in carbon emissions above 10%
In addition to the direct benefits to schools the programme will allow us to offer a greater range of support materials, training and other resources to Eco-Schools in England.
This support will enable more schools to progress through our awards to Green Flag and beyond.
To receive your Free Power for Schools application pack simply register here. But note that places are limited and eligible schools will be accepted on a first come first served basis.

Please don't forget to check our website for more eco & green products and services